Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mardi Gras Mission Trip 2016 ~ Part 2

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Psalm 51:8

Let me crudely break down this scripture for you. We heard plenty of joy and gladness...I had more fun on this trip than all the past years combined.  I don't mean that in a bad way regarding past trips, they were wonderful and worthwhile and filled with amazing life-changing things.  But I got lots of both this year and I am not ashamed to say that.  As for the bones that you have broken part....ummm, we may have broken some things but not in a way many would understand unless you were there...let's say it was a "had to be there" moment(s).  And I may need to ask one or more of my team members for forgiveness along with the entire state of Mississippi.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. Psalm 63:5

We had the opportunity to eat some really amazing foods and fellowship together.

I was not "in charge" this year which perhaps made me relax and enjoy every aspect of the trip.  My pastor went this year, he was the rookie on the trip but watching him had a great impact on me.  I have served with and under this man's leadership for several years now but seeing him love people on this trip gave me a greater respect and love for him.  He taught me how to be a better missionary.  And when we weren't "doing ministry" we had so much fun together.  What a great trip and awesome team.  God is good!

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Mardi Gras Mission Trip 2016 ~ Part 1

My 4th year of going on mission to New Orleans during Mardi Gras did not disappoint.  We did things a little different this year, new ideas had been brought to the table, new people (ok, one person) were coming along, and a new sense of boldness.  Conversational evangelism was, I believe, the main goal on this trip although I had used it every year in the past whether during face painting, passing out tracts on bourbon street, you name it.  But this year we were more intentional in our pursuit of conversations with the people we would encounter.  We prayed ahead of time and during for a love and opportunity to share Christ with those God would place in our path.  We used interviews as a way to engage people in conversations that would hopefully lead to the telling of Jesus and His love for them.  Yes, we were shut down by some and appeased by others but the gospel was put into their hands with a little card that had our name on it and a website that they could go to see their interview when it was posted but first took them to our personal story and testimony.  God does the saving, we just have to be obedient in the telling.

We also did a breakfast ministry each morning, the original thought was to find those who were still around in the morning that had perhaps partied too much the night before or were left behind by their friends, etc.  We didn't find many of those but we did find a vast amount of homeless people.  On day one I met a young woman named Rachel, she had sores on her feet and one above her mouth, she had a sweet smile and countenance and I was immediately drawn to her.  I prayed to find her the next day and I did.  It was a little chillier and she had boots on and other layers of clothing.  She let me sit with her and pray with her.  She said she was a mom of four children (she only looked to be in her twenties), she said they were with family in Colorado.  Sometimes she made sense and at other times I couldn't follow her but I was able to tell her the truth about Jesus, that He loved her and that regardless of her circumstances she could have joy and peace with Him.  I told her I wasn't better than her and that she wasn't better than me.  I held her hand and prayed for her, she hugged me I think three times.  I gave her one of the cards that had my name on it, I told her I didn't want her to forget me.  I don't know whether she will ever be able to look up my testimony but I wanted her to look at it and remember when she heard about Jesus.  She seemed genuinely touched and just stared at the card mouthing the words on it.  She is still in my heart and on my mind and I hope I never forget her.  Maybe God will even place her in my path once again.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

I Believe

Sometimes I feel like my life is a fairytale.  God has given me so many good things, those things being opportunities, the love of so many dear people, talents to use for Him, awesome kids, a husband who loves me almost too much (ha!), true friends, and most of all peace and contentment.  Living life with and for Jesus is so fulfilling, so full of joy.  I am so grateful I am His.

The title of this post is "I Believe"...a special friend of mine recently told all about the miracles God is doing in his life, where God has brought him to, and more...and he said "Here is my Declaration...I BELIEVE...I dare to believe that miracles still happen...that mountains still move and demons must flee...that the God that I serve is much more than I won't be afraid. I'll stand up and say...I dare to believe. Have you got something I can believe with you for? I am believing for something big this week, will you believe with me? God Bless my friends and family and may Jesus my King be glorified in your lives...."

I do believe! I believe that God is working in the life of Christy Hoagland in ways she could never have imagined, that He is going to do even bigger things and grow her to understand more about who He is and why He saved her and how He is going to use her for His glory and for His purposes.  What an awesome God we serve, He is waiting for us to cast aside our anxieties, our fears, our pride, our selfishness and trust Him to lead us.  He is the God of the universe, why do we put Him in a box?  He is faithful and trustworthy.  Why are we so weak?  He is strong and makes us strong when we let go and give over control.   Why are we so impatient?  His timing is perfect, His ways are perfect.  Thank goodness He loves us the way He does, in our weakness, in our doubt.  I hope that you will believe a little more about the big God that gave His Son, Jesus, for you and for me.  He raised Him from the dead...why can't we believe that He can do miraculous things in our lives?  He will.  I believe.

And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

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